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Date: 28 November 2023
Information for professionals
Midlands Abdominal and Retroperitoneal/Pelvic Sarcoma Unit (MARSU)
The Midlands Abdominal and Retroperitoneal/Pelvic Sarcoma Unit (MARSU) is a supra-regional unit serving a population of approximately 12 million, based at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB).
The unit provides tertiary care for patients with retroperitoneal, trunk, abdominal and pelvic sarcomas including gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) and works in concert with colleagues at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital. Together they form the Birmingham Sarcoma Service. The service manages complex patients who require combined oncological and surgical expertise, such as those requiring sacrectomy or hemipelvectomy.
MARSU receives more than 500 sarcoma referrals a year. The unit also provides support for the gynaecological cancer service based at the Birmingham Women’s and City Hospitals, and offers advice for patients with head and neck and skin sarcomas through the weekly MDTs. The surgical team from MARSU also operates jointly with the Thoracic Unit at Heartlands Hospital whenever necessary. MARSU works closely with other surgical specialties, in particular with the Liver Unit, often operating jointly on complex sarcoma patients.
In addition, the sarcoma service provides surgical support to the regional Neuroendocrine Tumour (NET) Unit and runs a weekly parallel clinic providing combined and coordinated care for these patients. MARSU also assists the retroperitoneal lymph node dissection program for non-seminomatous testicular cancer, and is part of the tertiary referral service for recurrent rectal cancer requiring sacrectomy.
MARSU has been successful in providing a coordinated, personalised service to a complex group of patients. The unit has established a national presence as one of the busiest regional specialist sarcoma units in the UK. It supports local, national and international research projects and has established links with sarcoma centres in Paris and Milan. MARSU also supports a sarcoma fellowship for surgeons who desire further experience in this specialty.